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Incident Response System


The National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) recently said several states and Union territories (UTs) are yet to implement the Incident Response System (IRS).


GS III: Disaster Management

Dimensions of the Article:

  1. Incident Response System (IRS)
  2. National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)
  3. Disaster Management Act, 2005

Incident Response System (IRS)

  • The Incident Response System (IRS) is a comprehensive framework that integrates facilities, equipment, personnel, procedures, and communication channels within a unified organizational structure.
  • Its primary purpose is to efficiently manage and coordinate resources to achieve specific objectives related to responding to incidents, emergencies, and disasters.
Components and Functions:

Responsible Officer (RO):

  • As per the administrative structure and the Disaster Management Act of 2005, a Responsible Officer is designated at the state and district levels.
  • The RO holds overall responsibility for incident response management.
  • They have the authority to delegate responsibilities to Incident Commanders (ICs) for effective on-ground management.

Incident Commander (IC):

  • The IC is appointed by the RO and assumes the role of leading and managing the response efforts for a specific incident.
  • The IC oversees Incident Response Teams (IRTs) and ensures that the incident is managed efficiently and in alignment with the established objectives.

Incident Response Teams (IRTs):

  • IRTs are specialized teams operating at different administrative levels, including state, district, sub-division, and tehsil/block.
  • An IRT comprises various positions within the IRS organization, led by the IC. These teams are activated in response to early warnings or disaster situations.

Early Warning Activation:

  • When an early warning is received, the RO triggers the activation of relevant IRTs.
    • In sudden disaster scenarios without prior warning, the local IRT becomes the “first responder” and takes immediate action.
  • If the incident escalates, higher-level IRTs are informed and may assume control.

Hierarchy and Merging:

  • In cases where an incident becomes complex or unmanageable at the local level, higher-level IRTs take over.
  • In such situations, lower-level IRTs may merge with higher-level ones, with the IC of the lower-level IRT assuming specific roles assigned by the IC of the higher-level IRT.

Delegation of Duties:

  • When a lower-level IRT merges with a higher-level one, the IC of the lower-level IRT can play roles like Deputy IC, Operations Sections Chief (OSC), or other responsibilities as directed by the IC of the higher-level IRT.
Key Principles:
  • Structured Response: IRS follows a structured approach to incident management, ensuring clear roles and responsibilities at each level.
  • Rapid Activation: Early warnings prompt the activation of IRTs, facilitating swift response and decision-making.
  • Adaptability: The IRS is adaptable to the scale and complexity of incidents, allowing for seamless coordination between different levels of response.
  • Importance: The Incident Response System is crucial for effectively managing incidents and emergencies. By establishing a well-defined organizational structure, clear roles, and efficient communication channels, IRS enhances the ability to respond promptly, mitigate risks, and ensure the safety and well-being of communities during critical situations.

 National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA)

  • National Disaster Management Authority, abbreviated as NDMA, is an apex Body of Government of India, with a mandate to lay down policies for disaster management.
  • NDMA was established through the Disaster Management Act enacted by the Government of India in 2005. Hence, NDMA is a Statutory body.
  • The vision of NDMA is “To build a safe and disaster resilient India by developing a holistic, proactive, multi-disaster oriented and technology - driven strategy through a culture of prevention, mitigation, preparedness and response”.
  • NDMA is responsible for framing policies, laying down guidelines and best-practices for coordinating with the State Disaster Management Authorities (SDMAs) to ensure a holistic and distributed approach to disaster management.
  • It is headed by the Prime Minister of India and can have up to nine other members. Since 2014, there have been four other members.
  • The tenure of the members of the NDMA shall be five years.
  • The phrase disaster management is to be understood to mean ‘a continuous and integrated process of planning, organising, coordinating and implementing measures, which are necessary or expedient for prevention of danger or threat of any disaster, mitigation or reduction of risk of any disaster or severity of its consequences, capacity building, preparedness to deal with any disaster, prompt response, assessing the severity or magnitude of effects of any disaster, evacuation, rescue, relief, rehabilitation and reconstruction’.
Disaster Management Act, 2005
  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005, (23 December 2005) received the assent of The President of India on 9 January 2006.
  • The Act extends to the whole of India.
  • The Act provides for “the effective management of disasters and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto.”
  • The Act calls for the establishment of National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA).
  • The Act enjoins the Central Government to Constitute a National Executive Committee (NEC).
  • All State Governments are mandated under the act to establish a State Disaster Management Authority (SDMA).
  • The Chairperson of District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) will be the Collector or District Magistrate or Deputy Commissioner of the district.
  • The Act provides for constituting a National Disaster Response Force “for the purpose of specialist response to a threatening disaster situation or disaster” under a Director General to be appointed by the Central Government.
  • Definition of a “disaster” in the DM Act states that a disaster means a “catastrophe, mishap, calamity or grave occurrence in any area, arising from natural or man-made causes.
  • The objective of the Act is to manage disasters, including preparation of mitigation strategies, capacity-building and more.
  • The Act contains the provisions for financial mechanisms such as the creation of funds for emergency response, National Disaster Response Fund and similar funds at the state and district levels.
  • The Act also devotes several sections various civil and criminal liabilities resulting from violation of provisions of the act.

-Source: Indian Express


February 2024